They say death and taxes are life’s only certainties. They, whoever they are, must not have heard about Gov. Terry Branstad’s sixth term.
He announced his candidacy for re-election this past week. And it’s in the bag, according to many politics watchers, including this one. Branstad’s got big bucks, high job approval and no marquee opponent. Iowa’s economy is good. He’s become like political comfort food for many of us, sort of like mustachioed macaroni and cheese.
But take heart, you Democrats, anything can happen in politics. In fact, I can envision 20 scenarios where Branstad loses in November.
I know they’ll make you feel much better.
Math — Iowans stop for a second and do the math. They realize how old they were when Branstad first got elected. They can’t believe how the time has passed. Where did it go? What happened to my dreams? It’s depressing, for voters and potentially turnout. Why vote? What does it really matter? We’re all just dust in the wind.
‘Stache — The governor slips and accidentally shaves off half of his mustache, breaking its hypnotic, mystical hold over Iowa voters.
Oops — The governor proudly signs legislation requiring voters to show photo ID, oblivious to a critical drafting error contained in the bill. The only acceptable form of identification is a Grinnell College student ID.
Bucket — Branstad finds his forgotten, long-lost bucket list, and discovers that “being governor forever” isn’t even on it. He quits to backpack across Europe, write a spy novel and become a gondolier in Venice.
Lost — A state janitor stumbles upon crates of uncounted 1982 election ballots, throwing the gubernatorial race to Roxanne Conlin.
Split — The heavily Republican western third of Iowa secedes, forming “Nebkotawa.” U.S. Rep. Steve King is crowned viceroy and immediately begins construction of a high border wall.
Eats — Hoping to make Iowa the healthiest state, the governor signs an executive order placing strict limits on the circumference of tenderloins, thickness of bacon, sweet corn butter slatherization levels and the coldness of beer. Riots follow.
Message — Branstad adopts the campaign slogan, “If you like your governor, you can keep him.”
Treason — Branstad is caught by a hidden camera wearing a Huskers sweat shirt, Ohio State sweat pants and a Badger hat. He takes off his sweats to reveal a full Kansas Jayhawks basketball uniform.
Truth — A governor fatigued by a long day of campaigning blurts out Republicans’ real plans if they take full control of the Statehouse. “After we bust the teachers’ union, we’ll institute a new professional evaluation system modeled after those ‘Hunger Games’ ...”
Space — A meteorite hits. OK, two meteorites.
Crime — He robs a liquor store. OK, two liquor stores.
Speed — His SUV is clocked doing a “hard 90” on its way to the Governor’s Highway Traffic Safety Conference.
Gaffe — A live mike catches the governor saying, “I like Iowa fine, but Minnesota, now there’s a real state! My three least-favorite things in the world are goldfinches, geodes and wild roses. Norman Borlaug? Big whoop. Also, I wouldn’t use ethanol if you paid me.”
Change — Branstad orders that all state taxes and fees must be paid with 50-cent tickets.
Buds — Has a personal epiphany while traveling in Colorado. Bob Marley is a musical genius, Doritos are super delicious, the graphics on Play Station 4 are bleeping amazing and chilling with your best buds is way better than stupid politics stuff. Inform all the necktie lame-os that he is totally retired now.
Yipe — A tearful governor admits his addiction to puppy punting.
Hubris — The governor announces his support for an amendment inserting the word “Branstad” following all references to “governor” in the Iowa Constitution.
Jobs — Egyptian fertilizer concern Orascom convinces the governor that it needs more state tax incentives to finance the construction of a massive climate-controlled dome over Lee County, creating 14 high-quality dome-polishing jobs.
Weather — Climate change kicks into high gear, and a tornado/flood/flash drought/polar vortex/blizzard on Election Day disrupts get-out-the-vote efforts, on top of the state’s hectic, labor-intensive November mango harvest.
Like I say, anything can happen.